The Parenthood: Monica Guzman Preston

The Parenthood: Monica Guzman Preston

The Parenthood is a new series with a focus on parents balancing work, kids, life and everything in between. It is a very real glimpse into the everyday lives of people, just like you and me, who are figuring out parenthood as they go. There is no manual for one of the toughest jobs in the world. The hope is that these accounts provide some interesting perspectives into the undefined and ever-changing life as a parent.

 

Monica Guzman Preston and I met when she was my editor for the college paper my freshman year. She was a few years older, witty, super smart, and always had a big smile on her face, even when we were in crisis mode. Now a full-time freelance journalist, she lives in Seattle with her adorable kids, Julian and Carolina, and her supportive husband, Jason.

1. What is your morning routine?

I wake up between 5 and 6 a.m. to work before my baby [Lina] gets up. I usually get an hour or two on the couch before she stirs in her crib, I go nurse her in bed, and put her back in the crib for another hour or so of sleep. When my almost 3-year-old [Julian] gets up at 8 a.m., I put down work and get to parenting, and fit in a shower where I can!

Monica_working
Monica_Julian

2. What is your typical breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?

Breakfast is Cheerios or Oatmeal Squares with strawberries and/or bananas. Lunch is leftovers or, if I’m lucky, the Greek Salad at Vios Cafe in Seattle, my favorite. Dinner is whatever my husband and I cook up. These days, probably something grilled out back.

Monica_Greek Salad

3. What is your everyday style?

Ha! Not much. These days I wear the same pair of cutoff jeans over and over again because I have no idea where my other summery pants and skirts have ended up, and haven’t made the time to look. I’m in a bun phase for my hair, and am thinking about cutting it short, partly ’cause it would look great (I think), partly ’cause I’m bored, and partly so my baby doesn’t tug at it.

Monica with Lina (long hair pulled back)

Monica with Lina (long hair pulled back)

4. Do you have a makeup ritual? (What products do you like to use every day? What is your go-to for a special occasion?)

Again – ha! I’ve never been much of a makeup girl. While friends in high school and college had whole kits I had, like, three things in tubes or something. Right now it’s all from Sephora, and it’s been the same for a while. A tinted moisturizer foundation, some blush, some concealer. Occasionally the mascara. I couldn’t tell you the exact brands because I’ve never really cared beyond asking the Sephora people what they recommend and spot-checking the price so it’s not insane. I have eye-shadow, somewhere, but it’s been months since I’ve used it.

5. Tell me more about the work that you do. (Did you always know this is what you wanted to do? Do you go into an office or do you work from home? Do you love what you do? What does the future hold?)

I’m a journalist. The details are complicated. I’ve been freelance for several years, writing for The Seattle Times, GeekWire, The Daily Beast, Columbia Journalism Review, and Quill Magazine. Usually I write columns on technology, media, or culture. My interest and work in journalism goes beyond writing, though. I like thinking about how journalism can be done differently and how it can involve the public more, and get new courage. Right now I’m working on a research study into that, and I’m loving it. So yes: I LOVE what I do. I’ve stopped asking myself if I’d want to work in anything else. Next year I’ll be a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, which will be amazing.

Monica conducting an interview at a GeekWire conference

Monica conducting an interview at a GeekWire conference

6. Any advice for aspiring writers?

Write. Don’t wait for anything. Just do it.

7. When did you move to Seattle? Why?

On December 31, 2006. I moved here to finish off a fellowship with Hearst Newspapers right after college. I came to work at The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which became the largest daily metro newspaper to shut down its print edition back in 2009. (Those were a really awful few months.) I don’t want to live anywhere else. I love this place.

8. How do you and Jason balance work and life? Any special tips?

Don’t expect to do it perfectly or you’ll go nuts. I’m convinced we all have cycles. We look for consistent formulas of ideal time spent doing this or that but the truth is that there is no consistency, not even in our own preferences, so “balance” is always a moving target, if it’s a target at all. You need lots of forgiveness and flexibility, and you need to cut yourself and your spouse/partner some slack. Especially if you have kids – that one amazing collaborative project you can’t screw up, and both of you are so invested in.

Monica_Jason+kids

9. How often do you and Jason have a chance to go on a date night? Describe one of your favorite dates.

Every Friday! We’re so lucky: my parents (below) live nearby and give us every Friday out while they watch the kids. We usually go to dinner and a movie, or just one big long dinner. It’s good to leave lots of room to chat. The best date night is one where I feel we’ve had time to dig deep enough into each other’s state of mind that we feel caught up, refreshed, and right there with each other.

Monica_grandparents

10. What has becoming a parent of two taught you?

Ha! Everything. I mean, everything. I have a hard time recognizing who I was before I became a parent. It’s changed my brain entirely. I have new thoughts on responsibility, time, my place in the world, society, hope, meaning, the whole thing. These are new depths and new challenges. The highs are higher, the lows are lower and the fears are much scarier. Parenting turned the volume up on life, and I feel like I can hear things that escaped me before. It’s awesome.

Monica_Julian and Lina

Thanks Monica, I especially appreciate your take on finding an ideal “balance” and how it is always a moving target!

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A 32-Hour Workweek

A 32-Hour Workweek

More does not always equal more. The Atlantic has a new feature about a world without work, especially as more jobs now have the ability to be automated by machines. Doing away with work does not seem advantageous for a number of reasons, many of which are explained in the article. But, the real questions here are:

  1. Is a 40-hour work week the most productive way of working? (Does anyone actually ever just work 40 hours in a week?)
  2. How do we finally strike a work-life balance?
  3. What can companies do to counter-balance the terrible leave policies in the US?
  4. Why don’t more people love what they do?
  5. What factors contribute in creating a favorable workplace experience?

In the video below, Ryan Carson, the CEO of Treehouse, explains his logic behind instating a 32-hour workweek, all while providing employees a full pay and benefits package. Treehouse staff has a 3-day weekend every week and it is rare that they ever take work home. There is a clear distinction between work and life, allowing them to spend more time with their families, pursue their passions outside of work, and use their time at work as productively as possible. I would assume that this would certainly also reduce the burn-out factor and give everyone ample time to refresh before Monday morning. Carson brings up an interesting point in stating that spending more time on something does not always mean that you are getting more accomplished. I know that I am certainly not very productive on Friday afternoons after about 4pm. At that point, I am just planning for Monday, getting out the last of my emails and shutting down for the weekend. I also don’t think that I’ve ever had a day when I have not responded to work emails outside of working hours. I can’t even imagine what that would be like. Could I be more efficient and complete my work in a 32 hour workweek? Certainly. Especially if it meant more uninterrupted time with my family and time to pursue my other interests.

Top Comic Credit

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Summer Plans

Summer Plans

Although we often dream of the southern Californian distinct season-less lifestyle, we know that, at least for now, the East Coast is the right coast for us. But, this also means that we only get about 4 months of warm temperatures before it turns into sweater weather. This summer, our goal is to plan many small trips with Rian. He loves exploring new places and being outside so anywhere with enough space to run free is a winner in his book. Unfortunately, he is not the type of kid who is happy to be in his car seat and take a long snooze or just look out the window for any extended period of time. Thus, our trips have to consist of manageable travel times. I think any place more than 3-5 hours away would be rough. With that in mind, here are some of the adventures we are looking forward to this summer: More

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Splurge vs. Save: The Bucket Bag

Splurge vs. Save: The Bucket Bag

I have a great appreciation for all things fashion/retail. I love knowing the history of a brand, the details of the craftsmanship, the pricing strategy, the leadership’s goals for the customer, and their overall philosophy. It is not very often that I come across a product that I really crave to own. Enter Mansur Gavriel Bucket Bags (above). Designed in New York and made in Italy, these beautifully simple and elegant bags are truly timeless. I feel like I would use it for years to come and it would wear very well over time. Plus, at $495-$695, the price-point is just right for a high-end bag, right in line with Tory Burch or Coach. So why don’t I own one of these beauties already? Well, the issue is that they sell out within seconds of becoming available online! Maithil’s niece stalked the site for months before getting lucky enough to score one. While I await a Mansur Gavriel, I may have to purchase one of the below, all being a steal at less than $60 each. More

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Mr. Monday: Father’s Day Gift Guide

Mr. Monday: Father’s Day Gift Guide

Father’s Day has taken on a greater significance for me after having a child. I don’t think that I ever fully appreciated or understood the “dad” role until I saw it in action from a parent’s perspective. In a way, I guess I had always taken everything my parents, especially my dad, did for me for granted. Fathers and mothers should be celebrated everyday. Father’s Day, to me, is a wonderful reminder to set aside some dedicated time to thank the one who is always ready to give his unconditional love, commitment, energy, time, and patience for his little one(s). Here are a few ways to show the dads in your life some extra love: More

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Spinach & Artichoke Pasta

Spinach & Artichoke Pasta

On my last trip to Costco, I ended up getting a massive bag of spinach. My original rationale was that I needed more than just the small bag to make Rian’s baby food. But once I got home, I thought, holy cow, what will I do with 2.5 pounds of these short-shelf-life greens? I ended up using some for baby food, I froze a good portion of it and with about a pound or so, I made a slightly modified version of Ree Drummond’s Spinach Artichoke Pasta. Spinach and artichoke dip lovers, this is the dish for you! It is creamy, decadent and comforting without the added calories of the cream cheese (I, like Ree, left it out. Adding it would just make this pasta sinful. And by that I mean sinfully delicious!) We had it for lunches and dinners and I enjoyed it equally each time. It reheats best in the oven but the microwave does the trick as well. More

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Lunch Spots: Flatiron

Lunch Spots: Flatiron

What did you have for lunch today? I used to be very disciplined about packing a lunch every day. It’s gotten harder now since we are always running around to get Rian ready for daycare and get out the door on time. Unless I pack my lunch at night, lunch entails walking no more than a couple of blocks to one of the places below. I work in the Flatiron District so, thankfully, choices are plentiful. Though I usually end up picking up my meal and eating at my desk while working, it is nice to sometimes have the time to enjoy a sit-down lunch with a friend or co-workers. Below are some of my go-to’s in the area – scroll through, click around and give them a try if you are ever in the area. More

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A Little Something-Something

A Little Something-Something

Something that many people do not know about me is that I love makeup. Hard to tell since I do not wear any on a daily basis. I love that makeup can be used to either enhance your natural features or completely change your look. For example, for a date night, I usually go for a natural look with a little extra emphasis on either the eyes or the lip. But, for a party or a special occasion, I enjoy planning out my makeup based on my outfit. The lip is either bold or the eyes are smoky or a bit of both (gold smoky eye with a bold coral-pink lip is my new favorite). For a quick and easy pick-me-up on a day when I have a meeting or am seeing friends post-work, I’ll use just one or two products from the list below for that “I don’t know what’s different but you look amazing/like you are glowing/so rested” look. More

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Mr. Monday: Our Boys

Mr. Monday: Our Boys

A post from Maithil:

I want to thank Pooja for allowing me to make this wonderful announcement. We are having another boy! In another five months our family is going to grow by one and we will have two kids under 2! We are extremely happy and excited for Rian to have a little brother to grow up with. I always wanted a brother when I was young, someone I could play with, learn with and someone who could understand and help me grow through situations that only a brother could understand.

I have to be honest here. There was a small part of me that was hoping that we’d have a little girl. I wanted the opportunity to experience that amazing relationship that my sisters and my father share. I thought I would even be a bit disappointed. But it’s been the complete opposite. I am thrilled that Rian and the soon-to-arrive baby will have a chance to create a bond that can only exist between brothers (and their father).

Fatherhood has been an experience of learning by trial and error. I had tried to mentally prepare myself before we had Rian. But no amount of time, thinking or planning can prepare you for the real thing. I can fool myself and say that I’m now better prepared for my second son. The truth is that I’m never going to be fully “prepared”. I will only learn and understand through doing when the time comes. The beauty of it all is that I’ve never been more excited to be a father once again.

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A New Addition To Our Family

A New Addition To Our Family

I’ve got some big news to share: Rian is going to be an older brother come mid-October! They will be about 19 months apart. This mean that we will have two under the age of two – eek! I am 19 weeks along and feeling good overall. This pregnancy is definitely different than the first one. Thank you Rian for prepping us! The main differentiators have been:

  1. I feel like I started showing a bit earlier.
  2. Having an active toddler, who was recently sick for about 10 days = no rest for the weary. My back and lower abdomen ache from carrying Rian. More sleep and a chance to just put my feet up is always welcome.
  3. I have cravings (I did not the first time) mostly for watermelon, berries and Mexican food (.
  4. I feel as though I am not actively paying as much attention to myself and Baby #2. But, everyone with kids says that this is always the case when you have a little one who is still very dependent on you.
  5. I am not as nervous and anxious. I am mostly just very excited, especially since I can already feel some movement!

As an only child, I cannot even fathom the fact that I will soon have two children. Rian has become accustomed to being the only child and is a hog for my attention. Though I think he will be a wonderful older brother, the initial transition may be a little rocky. Any tips for prepping him for the baby’s arrival?

We find out the sex in about a week and everyone in the family is hoping for a girl. Personally, I don’t have a preference either way. I just want he/she to be healthy and happy. We can’t wait to meet you littlest one!

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